Fire Storm Scientist

I’ve got a new story named “The Fire Wish” in the Japanese Mythology issue of Penumbra Emag  It takes place in the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant just after the 2011 tsunami struck and involves a worker struggling to bring a reactor under control.  It is the darkest story I’ve had published so far.

I have always felt a kind of mad glee when one of my stories goes out in the world, and though I do have some of that feeling right now, the subject matter of this story is so serious that it has tempered my usual effervescence.

The rest of the issue of Penumbra is absolutely great.  I strongly recommend getting a copy.

 Penumbra eMag Vol 2 Issue 10


On another note, I’ve just returned from San Diego where I visited my sister Alison, her husband Craig, and his extended family.  They don’t actually live in San Diego but in a small town named Ashby, Minnesota.  Their nearest big city is Fargo.

They were so nice I thought maybe I should leave northern California and move there.  My wife caught me thinking this, I suspect by that far away “I could be a Viking” look in my eyes, and pointed out that they have something in Minnesota called winter.  I knew she was right, but still, it sounded nice.  At least it did until everyone started talking about the storms.  Apparently at least twice a summer they have to rush into a storm cellar before some tornado rips a freight train off of its tracks and hurls it at them.  How do they know when it’s time to get underground?  They feel a change in pressure.  My brother-in-law does this in his sleep.  He’ll just sit up in the middle of the night open his eyes and tell my sister to grab the kids.


Okay.  I’m not moving to Minnesota any time soon.

I’ve got a six-year-old nephew named Aksel who has decided that when he grows up he wants to be a scuba diving scientist.  His dad explained to him that they call these people marine biologists.  Aksel understands this, but he prefers the title scuba diving scientist.


I think he has a point.  After thinking about this, I realize that I want to be a scuba diving scientist too.


Photographs are difficult.  Most of the time, for whatever reason, in photographs I look like someone just ran over my puppy.  I don’t even have a puppy.

Lucky for me, I have a friend in Los Angeles named Christopher Popp that I knew from the bad old Hollywood days.  He is a brilliant cinematographer and although he hasn’t shot stills in some time, he took pity on me.

Art 1

Not bad. Maybe a little puppy concern, but not much.



I’ve got another story published!  It’s in “Silver Blade Magazine” and can be found at  My story is called “I Love Death” and it’s a little like my relationship with my wife, but with more fear, trembling, and pillow fort building.

Here’s what happened.  The wife was on a committee that amends California legislation and there was a particular statute that no one wanted to deal with.  She was a little late getting on a conference call, so she got stuck with it.  This piece of law had to do with the disposition of bodily remains, as in, who gets the body after someone dies.

People joked that my wife had become a sort of Wednesday Adams, and she pretty much embraced that.

My paranoid imagination started churning and the story wrote itself (It did not rewrite itself.  That was a lot of work).


It has been a long time since I’ve blogged.  Here’s what’s going on with me:

I have a two week vacation coming up and I can’t wait.  As usual, work ramps up the closer I get to leaving.  I don’t know if this happens to other people, but during the final week before I go, urgent meetings appear out of the mist that I must attend, and extensive issues that only I can solve that can’t wait, and trainings that are vital that I must attend and and…well, you get the picture.  This time I’ve got actual tickets and family responsibilities that I cannot wriggle out of (I mean, I can, but I would expire from guilt), so, but, anyway, this week is going to be intense.

Holy snap.  I’ve written 60,000 words of a novel.  Now I must make something coherent out of it and hopefully gain another 20,000 words.  Also, it must be (ha!) good.  Oh, and, it has to be compelling, and entertaining, and actually interesting to other people.  Gulp.

Since I’ve last blogged, Ray Bradbury died.  R is for Ray.  When I was a kid, his stories made me feel less alone.  The angst hidden in them mirrored my own.

I admit, though, I got a little upset when I read “R is for Rocket.”  I wanted it to be a full novel and only realized it was a collection of stories at the end of what I thought was the first chapter.  I think I’m still waiting to read the rest of that book, which doesn’t exist.  I mean, some day, when I’m good enough, I could write it, but it won’t carry that weird ‘60’s modernist optimism about space travel (and, frankly, Mr. Bradbury’s lyricism).

But, speaking of ‘60’s modernist optimistic space travel, man, when I was a kid we were on our way to the moon.  It seemed that after we got there, we’d visit Mars and Venus, maybe about a week later, and then on to the stars.

That didn’t happen.

On the other hand,

maybe Gil Scott-Heron had a point.

Oh.  There’s one other thing I wanted to say about Ray Bradbury:

One night, some years ago, I found myself at the American Film Institute, and Ray was the guest speaker.  He was amazing.  He talked about following your heart and originality and how everything else would follow after that.  He was so inspiring that my friends and I thought we could actually do anything that we believed in.

 And we did.


I’m not usually a big fan of KPop, but, this is, well, the best video in the world, at least it was way back in the middle of July.

A Tale of Two Cheeses

Over the holidays I purchased two cheeses–a Stilton and a Camembert.  They were quite tasty but time passed and they both sat forgotten in the fridge as a variety of meats and vegetables were consumed from around them.  Several weeks went by and, at last, having eaten everything else, we caught sight of them and decided to indulge ourselves last night.

And indeed we did.

When we first tasted the Stilton it was sophisticated, pungent, complex, buttery, and powerful.  When we tasted it several weeks later it was nearly identical in texture and in flavor.

The Camembert, on the other hand, with notes both bitter and sweet, texture solid and fluid, had been delicious.  Several weeks later, this cheese had turned into a monster.  It raged through our taste buds and took no prisoners.  It was amazing.

The makers of the Stilton had made a choice to embrace logos, thought, and reason, the stuff of empire, to produce a cheese that would hit a note of power, correctness, and sophistication.

The makers of the Camembert had also made a choice, but a very different one, a choice to embrace mythos, to risk rot and decay, for the possibility of greatness, cheese-wise.

The Stilton, the king of cheeses, is constantly aware of class, society, and one’s place in it.

The Camembert, questionably pasteurized, borders on the rude, is shockingly romantic, and ready to make war at a moment’s notice.

Stilton showed tremendous courage during the blitz.  Camembert displayed amazing fashion sense during times of depravation and war.  Everyone remembers the Stilton musical invasion of the sixties.  Camembert movies make me cry.I like Stilton a great deal, but, in the end, I guess I truly love Camembert.  I know I’ll always be friends with Stilton, but Camembert and I, well, that is a dream of passion.   I think it comes down to this:  The orderly nature of logos may be compelling, but the jouissance of mythos is just simply irresistible.

I mean, if you like cheese.

The New Year:

The beginning of the New Year is often a time of resolutions.  No more chocolate cake, or, I will exercise at least three times a week, or, I will eat vegetables with every meal.  However framed, it always comes off as some unpleasant thing that I must whip my wild nature to do, accept, practice, or merely withstand.  And I succeed.  For a month or two.  And then my resolve erodes and I slip, I binge, and I fall.

In 2012, I’d like to try something different, at least for me.  Instead of resolutions, or vows, or promises, I want to make wishes.

I want to make New Year’s wishes for myself, for the world, and for the passing stranger who might read these words.  These wishes may float away on the breeze, or they may land on fertile soil and bloom, impossibly effortless, into great heartfelt joy.

I wish that work is fulfilling and less stressful.

I wish love tickles us into the waking dream that is our life.

I wish that words and thoughts flow.

I wish that we meet and are glad in the meeting.

I wish that there is enough food and resources for the world.

I wish that we will each catch one perfect moment, and know, in that moment, what it means to be truly alive.

And, of course, the flowing tide of happiness reaches a high water mark in all of our lives.


I wish all of these things for you, for me, and for everyone else, and I wish that wishes I could not have even imagined come true for all of us.

All the best,

Arthur J. Lorenz

Angry Turkey Birds

This Thanksgiving I got one of those fancy turkeys.  You know the ones they sell at the fancy meat store–the turkeys that put on airs about who their great-great-grandturkeys were?  Well I got this unusually pompous bird home and I brined it, and I cooked it, and let it rest, and I read to it…but it came out gamey, and leathery, and , well, rather unfortunate.

I now suspect this turkey had been reincarnated from a football.  And not those footballs made from leather, the vinyl kind.  Yes.  Definitely.  The turkey tasted like roasted vinyl.  After we were sure we weren’t chewing a pair of our old moccasins, we carefully covered the remaining carcass in foil, placed it in the fridge, and pretended to plan for leftovers.

That was when the wife had the idea to buy me my birthday present…an ipad.  And I got her one too… for the Holidays.  And we bought them together and, of course, played angry birds while we ignored the angry bird in the fridge.  Boy.  I bet I could get really good at angry birds.

Now it’s several days later, and there is still an angry bird lurking in the fridge.  I’d like to toss it out.  But I feel guilty.  Perhaps I could make some kind of salad out of it.  Yes.  Douse it with some sort of dressing; grind it up so it is indistinguishable from bits of leathery cheese; cover it with hot sauce to numb the tongue.

But that’s not what’s going to happen.  What’s going to happen is thousands of years from now aliens will reconstruct our culture based on the ritual sacrifice of the foil covered angry turkey bird in my fridge.  It’s never going anywhere.

I guess I have a bit of sympathy for it.  I mean, it’s like me on Twitter–it just sort of hangs around the joint, eavesdropping on other peoples conversations.

I suppose I could send it into orbit.

Or I could try to set it free.

Who am I kidding?   I’m just going to ignore it, go back to playing angry birds, and chew old moccasins.

The Sun, Occupy, Big Brother, and Everything

I’ve been researching the life cycle of the sun lately and I’ve found out a few interesting things.

The sun is gradually warming.  That means that in about a billion years, it will be so hot that water will no longer exist in a liquid state on earth and life as we know it will come to an end.

Also, when the sun becomes a red giant, in about five billion years, it will expand to a volume so vast, that it will grow far beyond earth’s current orbit.

This is all a seriously long way off, but in the mean time, here are some deliciously disconcerting facts about the sun all lifted from that old unreliable reliable Wikipedia:

The sun’s output has dropped 0.02% at visible wavelengths and 6% at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

Over the last two decades, the solar wind speed has dropped by 3%, its temperature by 13%, and its density by 20%

The sun’s magnetic field is at less than half the strength it was twenty-two years ago.

So.  Life is short.  All life is short.  What are you going to do?  What gives life meaning? Is it found on the weekend, say, in a bowl of ice cream?  Is it in a good meal with the ones you love?  Is it in giving a perfect stranger a seat on BART?

Life is full of choices.

Some are nice:

Some are difficult:

And some are just down right weird:

Me, I’m just trying to decrease the shadows.  For a handful of people.  Maybe more.